|Motto||“Head Beast’s Call, or Face Fang and Claw”|
|Parent Faction||Starlit Court|
|Colors||Green, Red, Silver|
“Head Beast’s Call, or Face Fang and Claw”
The Beast Wardens are a specialist order of knights who raise and use beasts for both their Men at arms and their mech combat. The Beast Wardens are just as much zoologists and conservationists as they are warriors; and are often referred to as the game wardens or the Black Forest Rangers. In addition to rearing and training specialized war beasts known as familiars, their duties include monitoring and preserving the biodiversity and ecology of Sihi.
The lead is cybernetic augmentation based on the sheath designed specially for the use with the animal companions of the Beast Wardens. The lead increases and augments the intelligence of an animal companion, granting it near human cognitive capabilities while preserving the animal's instincts. Additionally, each Lead is networked with a knight’s Sheath, allowing for a deeper bond between companion and master, and better coordination between the two. The implantation of a Lead is required for most animal companions to operate Mechs.
Adjuncts are a mech scale drone weapon that can normally be controlled by a knight or a Fae. Due to the coordination and neural load normally required to control an Adjunct most knights can only manage to control one or two at a time while operating their mechs. Through the implantation and bonding of a lead, a knight can instead offload the burden of controlling their leads to their companions. Most companions can control two or three leads at a time, with exceptionally well trained or skilled companions controlling entire swarms of four or five.
Adjuncts are lightly armored, possess independent omnidirectional movement in atmosphere or the void, and typically mount a single small rail gun as its offensive payload.
Part warship, part zoo, the Menagerie is an oversized battleship and the seat of the Order. Originally designed to raid worlds and kidnap their populations, the Menagerie has been scrubbed of it’s insidious past, with its enormous holds having been turned into dozens of large artificial habitats for the myriad species that the Beast Wardens have collected, bred, and trained as the stock for their animal companions. The Menagerie also contains a large cryos-genetic repository with countless samples of Sihian wildlife capable of germinating specimens in case of accidental extinction events.
Once a squire is accepted into the ranks of the beast wardens they are taken aboard the Menagerie. Once on board they are brought to one of the proving grounds, where an array of beasts bred by the order will be brought before the squire. In a ritualized process known as the bonding the squire will select one of the beasts as their first companion, however the beast must also choose to become the companion of the squire.
If the squire fails to forge a bond with one of the beasts, they will have to repeat the ritual again at a later date with a new selection of beasts. It is rare for one to fail in the bonding, as most beasts are as eager as their squires are to fulfill their purpose. It is unheard of for a squire to fail in the bonding more than twice, and only once has a squire required as many as four attempts at the bonding.
The bonding is officially completed when the squire and their chosen companion have their sheath and lead connected. It can be a disorienting process for a squire to have more than one voice in their head, this is only exacerbated by the squire now sharing their mind with their animal companion. Much of a squire’s early training involves them acclimating to their newfound bond with their companion. Another major portion of a squire's early training is training their new companion, who will be undergoing a similar mind expanding experience.
It is very common for squires to adopt habits and behaviors of their first companion, as the first neural link is a powerful one. Those paired with canines will often find themselves feeling a greater sense of duty or comradery, while feline bound squires are often independent and can be perceived as capricious or flippant. The exact ways these behaviors manifest are myriad, sometimes with none manifesting at all, with some theorizing that the connection to a beast simply amplifies existing personality traits.
The order of the beast wardens have a direct hierarchical ranking similar to that of the mystic dragons, adapted to their own purposes.
Sometimes called a junior squire, a neophyte is a squire in their early stages of bonding, unable or unused to controlling and commanding their companions, with most of their training composed of adapting to the bond.
Sometimes called a senior squire, a Scout is a squire who has acclimated to their companion, and can command and control them to an adequate level to have begun combat training with their mechs.
A fully knighted member of the order, sometimes called Journeymen. A knight of the order may not take a squire until they have successfully raised and trained several additional animal companions and undergone at least four years of active duty.
A veteran of the order, has likely trained several squires and dozens of animal companions. A Knight ranger has the right to lead a lance of knights, and often does so.
A knight warden is a highly experienced commander and warrior, typically a veteran of multiple campaigns and dozens of battles. Knight wardens command their own vessels. There are typically four to six knight wardens at a time depending on the prosperity of the order.
The second in command of the order, in charge of all Beast Warden holdings on Sihi. The gameskeeper is often apprenticed to the Grandmaster of the order themselves as their successor. The Gameskeeper is in charge of not only recruiting new knights and men at arms, but also directly overseeing numerous conservation and environmental engineering projects on Sihi. The Gameskeeper answers only to the Grandmaster and Castelon in military matters, and the Council of Elders in civil matters.
The leader of the order and commanding officer of the Menagerie, appointed by the previous Grandmaster or raised to their rank from the position of Gamekeeper in the case of an untimely death.
A civilian position within the order, responsible for environmental engineering projects, Sihian wildlife surveys, and ecological preservation projects. Technically hold the same rank as their Knight Ranger equivalent, but only in non military matters. Answer only to the Gameskeeper and the Grandmaster.
Founding and History:
The order of The Beast Wardens split from the Order of the Mystic Dragons in 483. Wyvern Knight Syr Dilan Lyonnet had lost their dragon in battle earlier that year. Syr Lyonnet had always had a kinship with animals, and wished to explore the possible utility of using other beasts in warfare. Syr Lyonnet approached Grandmaster Sethdragon, who was enthusiastic about the idea, and gave Syr Lyonnet and his followers leave to found their own oder to pursue this notion.
Even with Grandmaster Sethdragon’s blessing, the newly founded Beast Wardens were low on funds and materials. Grandmaster Lyonnet sought aid from Castellon to help the fledgling order bolster their ranks and gain the materials needed to carry out quests and grow naturally. In exchange for using their expertise with mega-phauna to help in culling and maintaining the Keg population of the Black forest, they would receive the funding and arms they needed. Syr Lyonnet and his followers accepted, and went about their task with zeel, recruiting and eventually absorbing the organizations responsible for maintaining biodiversity and ecological stability on Sihi.
On the battlefield the Beast wardens found success immediately, carrying out a series of successful quests and establishing themselves as more than a mere upstart splinter of the Mystic Dragons. Ultimately the Beast Warden’s position as a unique and renown order was cemented during the battle of Kalliotos 7, during which their second Grandmaster Syr Colt Ryder captured the pirate slaver vessel “Black Sunday” and claimed the huge battle cruiser as their orders flagship, rechristening the Vessel “The Menagerie”.
Grandmaster Dilan Lyonnet: 483 - 410
Grandmaster Dilan Lyonnet was the founder and grandmaster of the order from 483 to 410 before retiring. Grandmaster Lyonnet’s tenure as grandmaster of the Beast Wardens was spent gathering funds, recruits, and the specialized tools fir the order. Grandmaster Lyonnet tended to bond with feline species, notably a Sihian jungle Lion, and several silver river lynxes
Grandmaster Colt Ryder: 410 - 322
Grandmaster Cold Ryder was the first Gameskeeper and second Grandmaster of the order. Grandmaster Ryder famously captured and refitted “Black Sunday” into the The Menagerie and led the Beast Wardens from 410 to 322, leading from the front during the Tereket Wars. Grandmaster Ryder bonded exclusively with equine, and rode into battle atop an equine mecha piloted by one of his companions.
Grandmaster Tark Sahris: 321 - 284
Grandmaster Tark Sahris was the first Najan Grandmaster of the order, commanding it from 321 to 284. Grandmaster Sahris famously doubled the order’s size to its current standard and expanded their conservational role on Sihi. Grandmaster Sahris bonded with 3 Camlain Macaws, who outlived them.